Sunday 14 November 2010

Encounter Reaction/Morale Table

Monsters (including NPCs) without a scenario-specified reaction, and with at least animal intelligence, may react at random, according to their Hostility Rating (from 2-12, average 7) and Morale Rating (also 2-12, average 7). Hostility is their likelihood of a hostile reaction to a group of humans and demi-humans. Morale is their will to assert themselves when confronted with a group of roughly equal strength.

Examples: Kobolds have Hostility 8 and Morale 6. Hobgoblins have Hostility 9 and Morale 8. Dwarves found in the dungeon may have Hostility 5 and Morale 8. A hungry wolf may have Hostility 7 and Morale 9. A hill giant will likely have Hostility 8 and Morale 6 (he is big, yes, but he is a coward when dealing with things his own size).

The DM can simply roll 2d6 twice on an initial encounter, where a result equal to or lower than Hostility indicates a hostile reaction, and a result equal to or lower than Morale indicates self-assertion (attack or bargaining) rather than retreat. Or the more complicated table and procedure below can be used.

Click to enlarge

Attack: Monsters advance and attack the party
Stand: Monsters hold ground, fight if attacked
Retreat: Monsters make orderly withdrawal
Flee: Monsters run away headlong

In quotes: “Result only if party and monsters can communicate”

“Offer Service”: Monsters offer to help the party or fight with them a short while
“Offer Peace”: Monsters offer a longer-term truce
“Offer Alliance”:  Monsters propose an alliance to achieve a mutual goal
“Ask for Service”: Monsters demand the party assist them, will turn neutral if refused
“Ask for Peace”: Monsters demand a truce and will impose other conditions
“Beg”: Monsters grovel and will offer all they have to escape attack
“Bargain”: Monsters parley, but will pay a high price to escape attack
“Parley”: Monsters negotiate a mutually acceptable truce
“Intimidate”: Monsters negotiate but will expect payment or other advantage
“Command”: Monsters demand a payment, bribe, or other service in exchange for truce

In square brackets: [Result only if monsters are cornered or outrun]

Surrender: Monsters throw down arms and beg for mercy
Berserk: Monsters fight without mercy in a last-ditch stand
Fight: Monsters fight, subject to morale checks

In angle brackets: Result only if party flees or retreats

Stay: Monsters do not chase
Pursue: Monsters give chase
No Quarter: Monsters will not accept party surrender, fighting to the death

Monster Hostility Roll (2d6):
-3 to roll if poorly disposed (evil monsters on raid, party invades monsters’ home or attacks them by surprise);
+0 normally (monsters on patrol);
+3 to roll if well disposed (allies meeting in a war)

Once established, a hostility result usually stands, unless the party does something to test or radically improve relations (offering a large bribe, demanding a large favour) which may force a re-roll. Situational bonuses can range up to +/-2: for example, offering food to a hungry animal might give a +2, while an encounter between uneasy allies such as dwarves and elves might give -1. Charisma bonuses to hostility rating only apply to beings of similar species (humans, demi-humans, and creatures with human-like motives) and compatible alignment.

Deception: Creatures of low intelligence or higher who can parley or otherwise represent themselves as friendly will attempt to deceive the party upon a Hostile or Mortal Foe result of 1 in 6 times; average intelligence, 2 in 6; higher intelligence, 3 in 6. Roll a separate d6 for this.

Monster Morale Roll (2d6):
-3 if monsters think they are outclassed by 2:1 (effective hit dice vs. levels) or more;
+3 if monsters think they outclass party by 2:1 or more

Once morale is established, a group rerolls morale when 1/3 or more of its members are incapacitated; again at 2/3; when a leader falls; and when the situation changes dramatically (such as reinforcements arriving). An individual who has lost 50% or more hit points must also check morale. The subjective odds might change as well, and this is reflected in the number of dice rolled at any point. 

Situational bonuses can range up to +/-2: for example, a menacing attitude might give -1 to enemy morale (but -2 to reactions), while being outflanked from opposite sides might give -2. Charisma bonuses to morale only apply to beings of similar species (humans, demi-humans, and creatures with human-like motives) where the high Charisma figure is a leader of the others. Monsters may also have leaders who give morale bonuses but risk morale checks if they themselves fall.

Monsters of low intelligence figure subjective odds on pure numbers, also figuring in size and perhaps counting particularly well-armed individuals as double. Monsters of average intelligence have a more sophisticated idea of approximate levels and fighting capacity, while monsters of high intelligence are able to spot subtleties such as the existence of a magic-user.


  1. I don't think we ever bothered with a table like this in our last game. More of a Hack n Slash kind of team.

  2. I like the chart! Though it may be that it reminds me of the Universal Table of MSHRPG that makes me like it.

  3. Looks pretty good. I played with the idea of a Hostility score many years ago but never thought of putting it on a matrix along with Morale as you have here, it's a great idea .

  4. Hi,

    Can I put a copy of this on my tables website (

    I think this would work well in a dungeon-crawling board game.

  5. @Trey: Pretty colors!
    @anarchist: Sure, just link back to here and that's fine. I usually use d6 in my tables and am working on a few more for the needs of my ongoing campaign so watch this space.

  6. Thanks, I've added it.

    By the way, in the 'hostility' column you've got '-5 or more' and '+4 or lower' when I think you want '-5 or less' and '+4 or more'.

  7. This is a neat idea. I may steal it.

  8. I just had another idea: a friendly approach could reduce Hostility but increase Morale, whereas an aggressive approach could have the opposite effect.

  9. Yep - that is pretty much how I would rule it if the party intentionally took steps to "intimidate" a foe.

  10. I love this chart. It expands upon a similar one I created, but wasn't completely satisfied with.

    Have you thought of doing something similar for villager/urban reactions?

    I would like to do something for those inter-session periods when the adventurers have returned to a village after exploring the local dungeon and the locals respond based on a table such as this one.

  11. Thanks, Sakusamakko!

    I also use the chart for villager/urban reactions, up to a certain point. Attack and fleeing may not be options, but it is useful to knowing whether the person likes or dislikes the party, and what their opinion is of the party's power and status. So:

    High morale, high hostility: Contemptuous, exploitative
    Low morale, high hostility: Avoidant, cringing
    Low morale, low hostility: Servile, obsequious
    High morale, low hostility: Confident, friendly

    People in polite society are also more likely to try to conceal their true feelings if they see advantage in it ...

  12. Great stuff! Exactly what I'm looking for. I wanted to cross reference positive / negative with something and morale didn't occur to me.